Ashwagandha (pronounced to sound more like osh-wa-gon-da) is an interesting herb with a rich history. It uses are numerous and yet you probably haven’t heard of it. And even when you did you probably couldn’t spell it.
This guide is designed to give you all the details you ever wanted to know about Ashwagandha, and probably some things you didn’t know you wanted to know.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, while lesser known in the United States, is a well-known herb found in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world's oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India.
Ashwagandha is most popular for its various and vast health benefits attributed to the high concentration of withanolides (naturally occuring steroids) found in the plant which have been shown to fight tumor growth and decrease inflammation.
Also known as Withania Somnifera, Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, the Ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers native to North Africa and India. The plants roots and leaves are turned into extracts or powders and used to treat many ailments.
Here at O Essentials, because of the amazing benefits of ashwagandha, we knew we had to include it in our proprietary Hormone Supplement blend of herbs. It is an adaptogenic herb, a unique class of healing plants that help balance, restore and protect the body.
Among some of the most significant benefits of ashwagandha are its nootropic (cognitive-enhancing) benefits. Ashwagandha has been shown to benefit the adrenal glands and the hormones produced by it, so If you find yourself suffering in any of these areas you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue, and could consider adding an ashwagandha supplement to your diet.
All of these benefits listed are the reason we decided to include the rejuvenating herb in our very own organic herbal hormonal supplement.
Help With Sleep
One of the noted Ashwagandha benefits is that it is known to be sleep inducing. There have been studies done to show the positive impact it has on the brain as well as its ability to reduce tension and irritability while reducing anxiety and relaxing the body.
This is one of the main reasons we have this in our Hormone Supplement as well as our Stress & Anxiety Supplement.
A study published took 64 people between the ages of 18 and 54 (32 taking Ashwagandha as a supplement and 32 taking a placebo) over 60 days. This study showed the treatment group that was given the high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract, exhibited a significant reduction in scores on all the stress-assessment scales after 2 months, relative to the placebo group.
The cortisol levels were substantially reduced in the Ashwagandha group, relative to the placebo group. The findings of this study suggest that Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves ones ability to sleep.
Reduce Depression & Anxiety Symptoms
Ashwagandha is well known for its ability to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. 64 people took part in a chronic stress study for 60 days. The individuals who took Ashwagandha reported a 69% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to the 11% with the individuals who had the placebo.
Another study showed that in 6 weeks, 88% of individuals who took Ashwagandha detailed a reduction in anxiety
In yet another study, 64 adults took 600mg of Ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days and reported a 79% decrease in sever depression symptoms, which the placebo adults indicated a 10% increase.
Decrease Cortisol Levels
One of the reasons ashwagandha is thought to reduce stress is its ability to reduce cortisol. Cortisol is also called the stress hormone. Your adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress in addition to when your blood sugar levels fall too low.
In some occasions, cortisol levels become very high consistently which can lead to unwanted increase weight gain around the abdomen and high blood sugar results. Studies have shown Ashwagandha to be effective in reducing these levels of cortisol.
One study showed that consistently stressed adults who used ashwagandha as a supplement had much more decrease in cortisol compared to the placebo group. On average, they saw a 30% reduction.
Weight Loss and Management
Since Ashwagandha is known for its stress reducing abilities, it is used by many for weight loss. Much of unhealthy weight gain can be caused by cortisol, so by improving your cortisol levels (a known side effect of using Ashwagandha), it could lead to weight loss.
Test-tube studies and animal studies have proven that Ashwagandha encourage the decrease or death of tumor cells and may be effective against several different types of cancer
A study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine indicates Ashwagandha helps induce apoptosis, which is the death of cancer cells and helps inhibit the growth of new cells
Another study that shows how it helps treat cancer in mice.
Another study from the University of Louisville with mice suffering with ovarian tumors, shows that after being treated with Ashwagandha (solely or in combo with other anti-cancer drugs) had a 70-80% reduction in tumor growth as well as noticing the prevention of the cancer spreading to other areas.
Male Fertility & Testosterone
Ashwagandha has been known to drastically increase sperm quality and fertility as well as increase testosterone levels in men.
Increased Sexual Desire & Stamina in Women
Women can also benefit from ashwagandha, with one study finding that healthy women who took 300mg of the herb twice daily for 8 weeks enjoyed significant improvements in arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.
How to Take Ashwagandha
The most common part of the ashwagandha plant used in supplements are the roots. Herbal supplements such our O Essentials Hormone Support Supplement use a the root power and blend it with other herbs into capsule form, making it easy to take every day.
You can also find ashwagandha in many herbal teas and make it a part of your daily ritual. It’s best taken consistently, and will work better the longer you take it over time. It is best to be taken with meals to avoid an upset stomach.
How Long Till Ashwagandha Takes Effect?
While being a powerful herb It takes approximately 2 weeks for Ashwagandha benefits to take effect in the body to improve symptoms or reverse any long-term damage caused by high cortisol levels and stress.
Depending on your needs your dosage of ashwagandha may vary. Here are a few examples of dosage suggestions based on the symptoms.
Stress and Anxiety
The medicinal herb appears to help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. Daily doses of 125 to 500 grams of Ashwagandha taking for 30-90 days have shown to lower cortisol levels by 11-32%.
In one 3-month study in 75 men experiencing infertility, 500 mg of ashwagandha daily increased sperm count and motility.
Lower Blood Sugar
Some studies have shown ashwagandha can help lower blood sugar. Benefits appear to start at dosages as little as 250 to 300 mg per day given as 2-3 doses per day.
To Enhance Muscle Growth and Strength
In one study in men, 600 mg of ashwagandha per day for eight weeks led to a 1.5–1.7 times larger increase in muscle strength and 1.6–2.3 times higher increase in muscle size, compared to a placebo. While most studies have focussed on men, some research suggests women may reap the same benefits.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
There are very few known negative side effects of Ashwagandha so it is considered safe for most people. Which is good news considering its been around for over 3000 years!
There have been some mild side effects reported such as headache, upset stomach (eased by taking with food), or feeling tired (due to helping with sleep as being one of its benefits).
However, pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as people with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s disease, may need to avoid it.
Ashwagandha may also interact with thyroid, blood sugar and blood pressure medications due to its ability to help with these conditions, so please consult your doctor.
For your general safety it is best to consult your doctor before starting any new supplements.
Where to Buy Ashwagandha
There is no shortage of companies selling the stress reducing benefits of ashwagandha. Doing a quick search online will show you that.
But when it comes to quality you don’t want to be purchasing your herbal supplements from just anyone.
O Essentials Hormone Support Supplement is made from organic, non GMO Ashwagandha root powder. Our capsules are vegan and each bottle provides a 30 day supply of 5 essential herbs you need to help regulate hormones and see the above mentioned ashwagandha benefits for yourself!
And at $1.20 a day, it’s one of the most affordable hormone balancing supplements you will find.